Tag Archives: Russell Brand

“The Market” and the potential Counter-Effect on Radical / Subversive / Revolutionary Thought (with links to posts on Russell Brand, Adam Curtis, Stephen Hawking, Paul Mason, Akala, and The Tarnac 9 (or 10))

A nagging doubt that continues to linger after reading/hearing/viewing what might be considered to be radical/subversive/revolutionary works in the form of films/documentaries/podcasts/books, etc., is that can such works actually be so radical/subversive/revolutionary if the owner of such works simply profit from them through the controlled and controlling system of “the market?”

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Basically, if what you want to change is the present system (and it’s worth clarifying that what’s being discussed here is the present post-industrial Westernised system of capitalism based on the rampant consumption of goods), then how can you hope to do so whilst profiting from it – because bringing the system down will ultimately disrupt that source of profit.

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Surely, there has to be some sort of self-sacrifice on the part of the owner of the works, where rather than merely accepting royalties, etc., and using them to fund cars, multiple properties, holidays, pension funds, and the like (which serves to uphold the status quo of the present system), the profits are used in a way in which they are directed against the system itself – use the money to do the things that the system will never do.

It seems logical that to subvert the system you must first cease to consume all else than that of the very basic necessities (food, clothing, housing). This might (depending on geographical location) mean a household imposing its own limits of expenditure, where a figure acts as a barrier to excessive spending, and that all other monies above that figure are used in altruistic ways – and not in the current “philanthropic” way that sees money given to charities only for it to be reduced from a person’s tax bill (and note the inefficiencies of charities in their handling of donations). No. Instead, this form of giving should very much be plentiful, anonymous, and given freely and willingly.

The question is, will anyone be willing to do so?

Links to previous posts (lucky dip):

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Current Adam Curtis Obsession #1

Tying in with a recent article on the “unstoppable rise of veganism,” a podcast of Russell Brand’s interview with Adam Curtis, “Do We Really Want Change?,” offers a potential route forward from the seemingly destined-to-fail calls for change that we have witnessed over the last decade or so, whether the Occupy Movement in the west, or the ripples of revolution around the middle-east.

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Curtis identifies an actual, though brief, moment in history that resulted in monumental change, and which came from the Civil Rights movement in the southern states of the U.S.:

“White activists and black activists joined together and they spent years giving their lives, and in many cases literally, up to trying to change the world, which they did, and they surrendered themselves to that” (0:22:20 – 0:22:30).

Curtis details the success of the movement and the subsequent failure of the New Left as the rise of “individualism” takes hold, disrupting the coming together of groups of people, instead spreading the message that to be “true” to yourself is the real “goal” in life and that from that (being an individual) the world will change as a result (which it hasn’t). So, with veganism on the rise (around 1% of the U.K. population is believed to be vegan) is it time to recognise that when veganism is most challenging and difficult that it is at its most effective?

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What I mean, here, is that the growing trend for multinationals to assimilate veganism into their practices (many of them dubious in nature) is perhaps yet another example of individualism working for the benefit of the corporations and managers of capitalism. The capitalist model has tapped into the fact that being vegan is not always easy (you can’t just nip into any old shop to buy a snack without inspecting the contents of that pack in the first place (and even then you need to be clued up to the names that are used to describe the ingredients).

So, instead of the practices of old, where (and this is true, I’ve heard many a vegan testify to this) vegans would meet with other vegans to discuss foods that they can eat, sharing knowledge, and maybe even discuss activism and the like (perhaps they can be called We-gans), “new vegans” are being presented with a rich array of products that save them from having to do so, thus removing some of the discomfort and inconvenience of having to “go out of your way” to source information. In doing so, vegans are being kept isolated from one another in that there is a lack of incentive to grow the vegan community (perhaps they can be called Me-gans) – instead, becoming individual vegans, just as the markets require us to be.

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A great example of this has to be McDonald’s new “Vegan” Burger, which reads like a contradiction in terms, or just a really sick joke. One of the largest killers of animals on the planet asking vegans to come into their “restaurants” and sit side-by-side with carnivores? Bizarre, but true. The motives behind the launch of the McVegan can only be linked to profit, for there can be no ethical reasons behind the decision, as the animal slaughter continues unabated.

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So, try not to get too excited at veganism going “mainstream” because you may just get what you didn’t ask for. Instead, think of the myriad ways that you, in your small but perfectly capable way, could disrupt carnivore practices. You could write about it, talk about it, or just do something about it (pouring super glue in the locks of McDonald’s doors as you pass a closed store (making sure that it was dried in time that no McD’s employee would suffer any harm in the process) would be illegal and childish, of course)…


A World Without Work and a Mash-Up of Recent Posts

There’s an article discussing the way the world would look if future improvements in technologies eradicate the need for us to work. It’s nothing special. It’s reasonably positive about the outcome of such a thing. But, regardless of its merits, it does flag up something that seems to be entering the cultural lexicon more and more these days – a rabid discontent with what we have at the moment (failing economies, failing political systems, failing interest in working ever-longer hours for little or no extra reward, and other faily stuff), and the feeling that there should be a better way of doing things.

Now, my last post was all about the benefits of having time to think – and we’re not talking about 15-20 minutes spent pondering over a cup of coffee. We’re talking about day after day, until months and even years pass by, where we engage with the brain and have it working in far more productive ways than merely thinking about what new dress/tie/shirt/trousers/trainers/car/house/holiday/whatever to buy. To some that may sound a little scary. Many people cannot sit still, cannot stop talking for fear of the silence that fills the gaps between breaths, and may in fact choose to come up with the kind of argument that is situated within the above article and its readers’ comments section (always hilarious to read, as it shows how quickly we descend into aggression) – that we’ll all be poor and/or we’ll live in constant fear of crime and that we’ll all miss work because it’s such an integral part of our lives. Getting over that type of hysteria is required to think about the next level.

Now, as for the “cultural lexicon” bit, what is meant here is that there are interesting examples of conversations being had where the outcome of a shift in our society’s thinking is not yet fully formed – it’s more of a preliminary grabbing a blank canvas and kind of thinking about doing something with it at some point when you get a minute kind of thing as you’re busy thinking about many other things at the same time, to use such an analogy. Examples that have interested me recently are: #MrRobot; #RussellBrand; and #PeterDoherty, to name but three. Each one, though problematic, as such conversations are likely to be, speaks of a need to do things different to the way they are at the moment, and for that way to be better, fairer, more humanitarian in its ideals. Clearly, if you do the thing where you click the links that have been set up, there’s no single cohesive argument – but that’s the point. The conversations are starting to emerge.

The other side to the article in question, which engages with this kind of thinking from the reverse position, is that there is likely to reach a stage whereby the 1% of the 1%, let’s call them that just to be clear that it’s the very wealthy minority we’re discussing here, will have little or no need for a workforce. Now, though not one for conspiracy theories, there is the issue of what happens when the very wealthy have a workforce comprised solely of machines, along with a handful of skilled people (though that will only be a temporary thing) to service/repair the machines?

Do they:

  1. Redistribute their wealth evenly in a fit of egalitarian passion? (Probably not)
  2. Invent simple tasks for the majority to do, in exchange for a small sum of money? (Probably not)
  3. Set about ridding the world of all the extraneous mouths, so that they can keep all of Earth’s natural resources for themselves? (You’d hope not, but…)

Whatever the outcome, and I’m gunning for a), you perhaps have to ask yourself the following question: is the fact that we possess and continue to build nuclear missiles a potential problem for the earth’s population when at the same time we seem to have just completed a kind of “beginners guide to gardening the earth seed-kit” (Svalbard), which exists deep beneath the earth’s surface, protected by the thickest concrete walls imaginable and that are designed to withstand nuclear annihilation?

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Selma and a comment from Brand: A Second Coming @rustyrockets #thetrews – another collection of personal musings whilst conducting research of the #davidfosterwallace archive at the Harry Ransom Center, UT, Austin, TX (Day Five Entry Two)

The issue of arbitrary boundaries is brought up, briefly, in Brand: A Second Coming, when Brand discusses nationhood. He points out that boundaries are never pre-defined, they are inscribed by humans as a way of separating the human species. This theme is key to the film about the struggle to equality around the Civil Rights movement, Selma. By accepting such boundaries we are destined to live fearful lives, fearful of the ever present ‘Other.’ By removing such boundaries we may begin to understand that the Other is not so different from the Self.

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Oh, and it is perhaps my duty to point out that there is lots of humour in Brand’s film, in case I’m making it sound all a bit serious – it’s quite funny in places. And managing to get into the Paramount Theater for $12 a piece was exceptional value considering the corporate monster that #SXSW is turning into.


Brand: A Second Coming @rustyrockets #thetrews – another collection of personal musings whilst conducting research of the #davidfosterwallace archive at the Harry Ransom Center, UT, Austin, TX (Day Five)

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Reflecting on Russell Brand’s film, Brand: A Second Coming, which pretty much continues the work of his book, Revolution, and is well worth a watch because it is funny and moving and desperately sad, I am inclined to ask at what point other ‘fortunates’ might get off their arse/ass and actually do something about the things that are wrong and very much preventable in the world. I am thinking of the Chris Martins, the Sandra Bullocks, the George Clooneys, the Angelina Jolies, the Mark Zuckerburgs, the Bill Gates’, the Richard Bransons, the Emma Watsons, the J. K. Rowlings, the Bonos, and others like them, in short, those people with enough money and influence to actually begin making a difference in the world; and I’m not talking about donations to charities (a tax efficient form of giving that is rarely, if ever, checked up on to verify whether what’s being said is being given is really being given in the first place), I’m talking about instances of activism where a difference is felt immediately – begin with a single starving person and feed them, educate them, provide them with shelter, and continue doing so until they are in a position to continue such work themselves. All of the people listed above fall within the realms of the ‘philanthropic’ of their own volition. Why not crank up the philanthropy? Why not?


#corporeal #heresy #mysticism @rustyrockets – another collection of personal musings whilst conducting research of the #davidfosterwallace archive at the Harry Ransom Center, UT, Austin, TX (Day Three Entry Two)

W/r/t my last, who knew that the Nazis had a penchant for practising yoga and breathing techniques? Apparently, according to Berman’s book, Bad Tolz in Bavaria was a major centre for such things.

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#YouLearnSomethingNewEveryday


#corporeal #heresy #mysticism @rustyrockets- another collection of personal musings whilst conducting research of the #davidfosterwallace archive at the Harry Ransom Center, UT, Austin, TX (Day Three)

Quick thought: whilst reading DFW’s annotated copy of Morris Berman’s Coming to our Senses, rich as it is in discussions around mysticism, five/seven body thinking, and access to ‘higher levels’ of consciousness, I am mindful of my recent blog series, as yet unfinished, on Russell Brand’s Revolution. As it happens, my sister, not a Brand fan, and I are going to pop along to the Paramount Theater in Austin tomorrow night with the aim of acquiring cheap seats ($10 a piece) to see @rustyrockets as his film, Brand: A Second Coming, premieres at SXSW.

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The same discussions that are present in Berman’s book abound in Brand’s also, but it is the belief of Berman’s with respect to such discussions that is most interesting and/or chilling, depending on your viewpoint, as he discusses the ‘neutrality’ that exists around this area that can lead to effects that are ‘irreversible’ if enough people happen to go through the process/experience of working towards an ‘ascending consciousness’ at the same time. The talk of neutrality here is connected to the fact that access to such thinking can be used for good AND evil, and the two examples Berman leads with are that of Hitler and Ghandi. With a further clarification that such changes in consciousness can, and do, happen with surprising speed, it is interesting to ponder the call to consciousness that we see in Revolution, for who will the call be answered by: another Hitler, or another Ghandi?


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